Russell Review

January 2022

Message From Principal Blake

Welcome Back!

I hope that each and every one of you were able to find some time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate during the winter break. December was a busy month full of many wonderful happenings both at Russell School and within each of your families. Though I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I always look forward to getting back into the swing of things when January rolls around.

As we move from one year to another it is important that we take a moment to stop and reflect on all that we accomplished in the last year. 2021 was a hard year for many of us and the prospect of the new year brings us great hope that we will continue making our way back to what we once knew to be "normal". While this school year has been far from normal, I am reminded just how far we have come since the spring of 2020.

Like much of the world, as we begin our journey into 2022 many of us are looking ahead for bright new beginnings. Unfortunately, this pandemic is showing us little relief. We must continue to rely on the proven methods that we have implemented allowing us to keep many students in school and learning most of this year.

As we move into 2022 we will continue to place great emphasis on good hygiene habits, physical distancing where possible, and above all else, staying home when we are feeling under the weather. These mitigation efforts have worked for us so far. It is my greatest hope that this continues to be the case as we return to school this week. I thank you all for your commitment to keeping our kids in school and learning in-person. We couldn't do it without your support and dedication to keeping our school community healthy!

Happy New Year!

Mr. Blake

Updated Daily Health Screener

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Upcoming Dates To Remember

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2021 - 2022 School Calendar

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IMPORTANT: Unexpected Early Dismissal

On occasion, children must be dismissed from school earlier than expected per order of the Superintendent. In the past, early dismissals have happened as a result of inclement weather, heating failure, or other emergencies which may arise with very little notice.

It is not unusual for us to lose power and the use of our phone system during some of these events. We have one auxiliary phone, though we reserve that line for communication with our Central Office, transportation department or community first responders.

Keeping this in mind, we ask families to think ahead and develop alternative dismissal arrangements should early dismissal become a reality. It is not possible for Russell School to contact each family by phone when the need arises. Instead, Russell School will utilize the School Messenger system to send communication via phone and email. For that reason we ask that you keep your information (phone/email) up-to-date with our main office. This will ensure timely and effective communication between the school and home.

As previously mentioned, it is extremely important that we have written plans and arrangements in place prior to these unplanned events. Please take a few moments to discuss your family’s plan with your student and complete this form as soon as possible.

We thank you in advance for all your help and support!

Updates From The Kitchen

Breakfast & Lunch

We are pleased to remind you that breakfast and lunch will be free to all students for the 2021 - 2022 school year! Starting in November, students were be able to choose from two different breakfast options each day. These options have been, and will continue to be, outlined on the Breakfast Menu published each month.

Milk Only

Students who choose to only get milk with their breakfast or lunch will be charged $0.50 for each milk they take. Families should plan ahead for such purchases and pre-pay using My School Bucks.

Lunch Menu

Students and families can find copies of the most current menu on our MSAD 15 website or by clicking here.

Changes To The Lunch Menu For January: Unfortunately, due to some current food service challenges, Russell School will be unable to have three lunch options for the first two to three weeks of January. As a result, students will be able to choose between the hot lunch meal of the day or a sunbutter and jelly sandwich. We recognize that this is not optimal and we will look to reinstitute the three choices as soon as it is feasible.

Please Join Me In Welcoming Ms. Judy Fernez To The Russell School Staff

As some of you may know, we recently have brought on a new staff member to permanently fill the secretarial position in our main office. I am pleased to introduce to you Mrs. Judy Fernez.

Judy joins the team at Russell after a lengthy career as an administrative assistant at several businesses in the Greater Portland area. When not being consumed by the many tasks being thrown her way, Judy can be found spending time with her husband, Everett and son, Julien, who is currently one of our second graders at Russell School. Judy also enjoys beekeeping, tea-drinking, keeping up on current events and, like many of us, indulging in mindlessly scrolling through her phone to maintain some semblance of sanity.

It is important for families to note that Judy has assumed many of the day to day operations of the main office. Families who need to communicate with the Russell School office should send communications to Judy at her personal email: or by calling the school at 657-4929.

Welcome, Judy!

Pooled Testing Reminder

Please be reminded that we are currently implementing pooled testing in MSAD 15. Please know that students can be signed up at any time to join this very helpful program. Below you will find the information Superintendent King shared on the matter in his September 15th Memo.

Pooled Testing

We are participating in the Pooled Testing program for two reasons: (1) it gives us early detection of cases, and (2) students who are in the pooled testing program are not required to quarantine if exposed.

All parents who want their children to participate in the Pooled Testing program may register their children.

To get started, please fill out the consent form with your permission to perform a COVID-19 pooled test for your student at school. This process should take no more than 5 minutes to complete using a computer or a smartphone.

  1. First, click here (
  2. Then, enter the access code for the school your child attends
  3. Finally, enter your child’s information, and you’re done!

School Access Codes:
  • For Russell School (Grades K-2 in Gray) - 3GGZ43
  • For Memorial School (Grades K-2 in New Gloucester) – 5BWV90
  • For Dunn School (Grades PK, 3, and 4) – FXYGGR
  • For GNG Middle School (Grades 5-8) - DUPT8W
  • For GNG High School (Grades 9-12) - ZK81PV

Quick Overview of Pooled Testing

Providing simple, affordable COVID testing for every school in America

Reporting COVID Cases & Close Contact Identification Status

Please be reminded that any COVID information should not be shared with our office email. All COVID related communications can be directed to Shannon Newcomb in our school Health Office. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 657 – 9623.

Families can also choose to email information to Mr. Blake ( Mr. Blake will forward information to all parties needed.

Has Your Child Received Their Second COVID Vaccine?

If so, please send in a copy of your child's vaccination card to the Russell School health office.

This will be documented in our system and could be helpful in allowing your child avoid close contact exposures as we progress through the remainder of the school year.

Thank you in advance!

Dress For Success

Temperatures in our building are known to fluctuate substantially throughout the day. We highly recommend that students dress in layers now and through the cooler months; especially since we are prioritizing a lot of outdoor learning and windows open for additional ventilation in the classrooms.

Dressing in layers allows students the greatest opportunity to be at the just right temperature of their choosing. Please be sure that each layer is labeled with your child’s name so lost items can be easily returned.

Dress For Success Outside Edition

Now that we are well into winter weather here in Maine, students and families must be mindful of packing the appropriate gear to play outdoors! With colder temperatures in the forecast for this coming week, it is important that kiddos have all that they need to play outdoors.

As long as the "feels-like" temperature says 10 degrees, we are headed out for recess. Minimally, students should bring along winter jackets, hats, gloves, and boots each day. With snow on the ground, students will need snow pants to play in any area that is not the blacktop.

Your help with this is greatly appreciated!

Russell School Gladly Accepts Donations of Gently Used Winter Gear

In years past, Russell School has had a number of items on hand for occasions when student forgot their outside gear. Unfortunately, our supply has dried up.

If you happen to be cleaning out your closets and come across any extra winter gear, that is in good working order, please feel free to send it to the Russell School health office. We are always looking for extra:

  • Snowpants
  • Jackets
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Hats

Additionally, if your child borrows items from the health office supply your support in getting those items back is greatly appreciated. This allows other to borrow items in a pinch.

If your family is in need of support to purchase these winter gear items, please reach out to me directly by email at We often have volunteers willing to provide some items to families in need.

Winter NWEA Assessments Coming Soon

In the coming weeks Russell School students will take the Winter NWEA assessment known as the Measures of Academic Progress Assessment (MAP). The MAP assessment is given in the areas of reading and mathematics and done on the iPad. MAP questions are typically asked in a multiple choice manner with students selecting the correct answer or dragging and dropping items in the correct place.

The MAP assessment typically takes K-2 students between 30 - 45 minutes for each assessment. These assessments are not timed and will be scheduled with student's development in mind. Results will be shared with families after the close of the assessment window, which aligns closely with parent-teacher conferences.

More information to follow regarding assessment dates. Until then, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher or Mr. Blake at any time.

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